University of Cambridge > > Plant Sciences Research Seminars > A System Dynamics approach to model carbon assimilation in plants that exhibit Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM)

A System Dynamics approach to model carbon assimilation in plants that exhibit Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM)

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Plants that exhibit Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) present several theoretical advantages over C3 and C4 crops as a feedstock for biofuel production. In order to place CAM productivity in a commercial context, an understanding of biochemical and physiological regulation needs to be coupled with agronomic-scale productivity and resource inputs to develop a more predictable supply-chain for biomass conversion Life-Cycle Analysis. Current literature makes a very strong case for correlation between various physiological and biochemical parameters, and CAM expression, though falls short of providing robust causal connections that quantitatively explain how changes in one variable may influence carbon flows over the entire system. Bridging this gap requires the tacit recognition that the emergent properties of CAM physiology are determined by both the individual system elements and the overall architecture of the CAM system. In many cases the dynamic interplay between elements of a complex system has the capacity to explain counterintuitive non-linearities arising from ostensibly simple inputs. In this presentation current knowledge of the regulatory elements that govern CAM expression is synthesised into a System Dynamics model, with the aim to quantitatively describe and isolate parameters that rate limit carbon assimilation over the diel cycle. The long-term goal of this research is to develop a predictive model of CAM productivity to more accurately understand the commercial potential of CAM as a feedstock for biofuel production, and to identify risks that such developments could engender for indigenous CAM and C3 plant diversity.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Research Seminars series.

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